A Word with the DOCTOR
by Dr John Winsor
The Sunday Times of Malta
I DON'T THINK our family doctor liked me very much when I was a youngster. I cannot really blame him.
Whenever he had to come to see me he used to say as he came in: "Where is Robert the Devil?" That was not even my name. He always kicked my bricks down, trod on my favourite railway engine, put me to bed - and prescribed castor oil and a milk diet.
He said he was not going to hurt me - but usually did, with a variety of shiny, evil-looking instruments which he produced from bulging pockets.
Judging by the children I treat, very few of them these days seem to object to a doctor examining them.
I may be a bit of a nuisance, but that is all. I think this is largely because youngsters these days are far more used to seeing a doctor.
And, of course, children are much healthier than they were. They are protected against so many complaints by inoculations. They are better fed and housed, too.
It is very important to get on well with children. Contact with them should be free from fright or fight. If, during the interview, you have to examine them to the accompaniment of yells and screams, you are very likely to overlook some signs of importance and make a wrong diagnosis.
Children have four main fears when seeing the doctor: "What will he do? Will it hurt? Am I very bad? Will he send me to hospital?"
Doctors and parents should never tell a child that "it will not hurt" if it is going to be a bit painful or uncomfortable. To do so will destroy all confidence in the medicine man'!
If a child does know he is to go into hospital, the modern attitude has changed for the better in most hospitals. The young patient should be visited as much as it is allowed.
Mothers and fathers can often be a help in the nursing too. A child dumped in a vast ward, who does not know what is going to happen to him, may suffer for years from the effects.
If a child is ill at home, try to do the nursing downstairs. It may be a bit difficult, but it can make life much happier for the invalid and it may even make nursing easier.
Do not imagine that because a poorly child is off his food, he will starve to death. Do not go on at him about eating.
Taking plenty of fluids is easier and more important. Make sure the youngster gets enough fresh air, and do not try to get a 'greenhouse, temperature in the room.
Finally, avoid odd jobs when you have got a sick child in the house to nurse. Give him or her plenty of your company - some quality time if you like. The patient will be better for it.